Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year in review

2011 is done. 2011 was a mixed year for running for me. 2011 was still good.
Sure I did not reach the mileage level of 2010 and I didn’t run any marathons or ultras. Sure I had some in my thoughts but sometimes things change in life and to be honest I don’t mind.
Total miles 779 (vs. 1100 in 2010). Four races ran (vs. 7 in 2010)  
I lost weight in 2011. How much? No idea but I know I’ll be buying new shorts in 2012 as my current ones are too loose on me. And I had to put a new hole in my new belt. That’s good.
My 779 miles were a mix of road, trail and limestone. I might have ran more road than last year even on less total but there was days when I ran around the local area instead of driving to the trails. I did more night running thanks to the New Leaf Ultra Runners. It was fun running the Illinois Prairie Path in the dark keeping my headlamp off as much as possible.
My four races included one road, two limestone and one dirt trail.
At two of these races I surprised myself with, for me, good (current) times. Sure neither is even close to my best times from years ago but I was happy with my effort and times.
First race was Solider Field 10. That is a road race except for the last 0.1 miles when we ran across the field inside the stadium. I really liked this race. Very well organized, great T shirt and finishers medal. Of all the races and runs I did in 2011 this was my best effort.
Second race, NLUR Sunburn Six and Twelve hour event. Had to be the hottest day of the year. It lived up to the race name. I took it easy and didn’t run as far as 2010 which in itself was hotter.
Third was my “A” race for the year. Des Plaines River Trail half marathon put on by my friends Terry and Ed. Last year I ran the full marathon. It was nice this year to be done earlier and get to see the marathon and 50 milers finish. Course and time of year was “refreshed” for 2011. Another good T shirt and medal plus awesome after race lunch meal.
Fourth race was really a non race put on by the Midwest Misfits. A trail 5k the day before Thanksgiving. Think there was around 22 runners. A nice little trail system and a unique wooden finisher’s medal.
For 2011 I picked a favorite race for the year, Rock Cut HOBO 50k. This year all four events I did earn that honor. They were all different for different reasons.
What else. I volunteered at many races this year including a mile race, a triathlon, a 100 mile trail race, two lakefront ultras and worked many events in a manager/staff role. 
I did miss not traveling out west to crew at Badwater and Javelina but maybe I’ll make that trip to a west coast/southwest event in 2012. Maybe I’ll finally get to run that 50 mile event I’ve want to do one of these days. And maybe I’ll finally get the dust of my mountain and road bikes.
Big thanks to all my running groups: CHUGs, NLUR, Misfits, MUDDs, Coyotes, Buffaloes. Even if I didn’t see much or any of you in 2011 I read the group members words posted on Facebook and yahoogroups. You all inspire me more than you know and I know you will inspire me to run well and further in 2012.
I must mention one story in 2011 that stands out and inspires me more than most in the running world. My good friend Lisa Bliss and her Badwater solo. Not only was it solo but it was self supported. Lisa became the first women and only second person to go from Badwater Basin to the top of Mount Whitney all the while pushing, pulling and no doubt kicking a cart on wheels with ALL her supplies and water for the journey receiving absolutely no supplies, restocking or advice along the way.   Congratulations Lisa. Yeah it was all my fault all those years ago.   
Good luck to all my friends in 2012 whether you run or not. Happy New Year to All.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Midwest Misfits Gobbler Gallop 5k Trail Run

Got to be a first for me, a "race" on a Wednesday. Today I traveled further west of Chicago than I already live to run a 5k trail non-race put on for the 5th time by the good folks of the Midwest Misfits Endurance Club

First heard about this non event on one of my many local running Facebook groups I have the pleasure of being on, in this case the Coyotes of Rockford (well out of Rock Cut park). Quick email exchange with the RD and I found my way on a chilly, but warm for November, morning headed to Silver Springs park near Yorkville, IL.

Driving into the park I could see some hills and ridge lines. I'd hiked some of the trails along the Fox River that is on the north edge of the main section of the park. Those are fairly flat and wide, likely used for cross country skiing in the winter but RD Kristen and her hubby had apparently created a 5k loop with a good mixture of flat, single track, and a little road, oh and plenty of hills. After meeting with a few new faces (actually all 20 or so were new faces to me), a briefing from the RD we all headed up the hill to the start line. Few photos and Kristen or someone said GO. This is a trail run with a twist as within 200 meters we were to stop at a truck grab a shot glass, chug it down and head out onto the trail system.

I immediately did my normal start slow at the back but this time didn't taper off. Along the wide grass and gravelly (is that a word) trail next to the river with the sounds of hunters across the river. Most people pulled away from me so I followed two young ladies who I figured knew the course. The course was marked with orange and yellow spray paint, very appropriate colours for Thanksgiving. It had rained the night before and the RD had worried some markings would have been washed away. some had faded and all will very soon but only one person missed a turn so we heard. Soon we hit the first hill and after climbing a long way we headed down and along a nice section of single track. The trails had lots of tree roots but the RD and friends had raked all the leaves off the course the day before. That made me laugh as who rakes leaves but it put another excellent spin on the non event. More hills, more single track and I was still keeping up with a few runners. Around mile 2.5 we emerged from the forest and took the park road running the wrong way down the one way system. towards the finish line near the park area.

And for the next Misfit spin the RD had put the finish line on top of a small hill that leads from the parking area to one of the park's lake. Nothing like a nice climb, to cool down to, leading to the finish line picnic bench. Was presented with an awesome finishers medal, see photo up top but think what it looks like on a green neck ribbon.

A few folks came in after me but most of the 20 plus crowd had finished before me. That is often the case but as I say more trail time on the trails that I love to run. The traveling trophy, a painted skull (found on the Silver Springs trails) mounted on a wooden stand was presented to the winner for the 3rd time I believe.

I had lots of fun. The Midwest Misfits Endurance Club are a great bunch who I hope to run with (or not far behind) again. The trails at Silver Springs surprised me but then Nolan Ming was right. Illinois doesn't have many trail systems with dirt and single tracks but what we do have are all great, I've added Silver Springs to my list of places to run.

Thank you Kristen and her family for a great non event, all the Misfits and the trails of Silver Springs. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Des Plaines River Trail races year two.

                                    Dan, Tina, Brandi, Ian, Kelly, Carol
                                    Photo courtsey of Brandi Henry

The second edition of the Des Plaines River Trail Races were held today (22 Oct) on the scenic Des Plaines River Trail in Lake County just north of Chicago. Last year the race was held in May but due in part to regular spring flooding the RDs, Ed and Terry made the right decision to move the event to the autumn.

As the photo above says DPRT consists of a 50 mile, marathon and half marathon. The course winds along the DRPT through woods, forest preserves and along the river. The surface is all limestone with only a few minor preserve roads to cross. Aid stations are every 2.5 to 3 miles as this is a trail race with limited access points to set up any more. Runners are advised to carry a water bottle (most did).

Last year I did the marathon. Lacking time to train for marathons or ultras this year I signed up for the half marathon. I also volunteered at race morning packet pickup and was assigned to bib and chip pick up along with a great crew of others. In total there was close to 400 people signed up for the series of races. Most were doing the half but the numbers for 50 mile and marathon both had more than doubled from 2010, I think the half had tripled in numbers.

It was a chilly start to the race but by the time the half started it was warming up with the weather being possible the best it could be. The tree cover would provide some shade but the meadow areas you could feel the sun shining down.

My only goal for the half was to finish but possibly run my fastest time in over 10 years. 10 days ago I had ran the Oak Brook half marathon course (can't run that race as I set up OB 1/2 course each year). I ran that one well so to beat that time was the goal.

To cut a possible long story short (hence running a half and not the 50!!!) I reached my goal and except for trying to choke on a S Cap I was happy with the race. Sure it is still almost a time zone off a PR but.....

Many of my friends ran one of the 3 distances or volunteered at an aid station. Big thanks to Kelly for running with me for some of the race. Kelly is coming back from having a baby a few months ago and did an amazing job. Other members of her family also ran first marathons and 50 miles. Zach Gingerich won the 50 mile in 5 hours 37 mins, that is around 6 mins faster than 2010 which was the fastest 50 in the USA in 2010. Jim O'Brien won the marathon in a great time for a course PR. Kudos to Juan, Anastasia and Paige for 50 mile PRs. And major kudos to the Pope as in Dom the energizer bulldog that ran his first 50 mile.

DPRT was and is a great event. The RDs do a great job. They also give out nice T shirts with one of the best race logos out there and the medals for half and marathon are nice and heavy weight with the race logo and distance. 50 milers get a buckle and rather nice it is. Next year maybe I'll do the 50 mile to complete the DPRT bling set.  And there is also a catered lunch for all runners with beer. 

Results are on the Runrace website.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mike Hanes to ride FC508

UPDATE: Mike successfully completed the FC508 breaking 40 hours for the 508 miles ride. Congrats Mike.

We all know how much I like Death Valley. Been there 4 times and when I can't be there I am reading about it, watching documentaries about it or following a race such as Badwater Ultramarathon.

On Oct 8th it'll be time to follow the Furnace Creek 508. The race starts in Santa Clarita (near LA) and makes a 508 mile loop across the Mojave Desert, through Death Valley National Park and Mojave National Preserve, to the finish line at the gateway to Joshua Tree National Park, Twentynine Palms, CA.

The race is by bicycle and includes solo and team relays. One of the solo racers is Mike Hanes from Maine.

I first meet Mike when he crewed for his father, Steve Hanes at Badwater 2009. Steve crewed with me the previous year for Kelvin. Like his father Mike is an endurance ultra athlete. He's done a few ultra marathons but long distance biking is his favorite. In 2010 he joined his father at FC508 for a two man relay team and had a successful finish. This year Mike rides solo with father on the crew.

Mike is also raising money for Indonesia Initiative Friends Peace Team. You can read more about the charity on Mike's charity page:

FC508 is put on by Adventure Corps who also organize the Badwater 135 ultramarathon.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

No one feed the runner. Lisa completes her amazing journey

Photo by Dr Ben Jones (sure he will not mind)

Dr Lisa Bliss completed her solo, unsupported, self contained journey from Badwater Basin to the summit of Mount Whitney. Lisa is the first women and only second person to accomplishment the journey.

She has stated this is the hardest thing she has ever done. I am so proud of my friend and what she did. When she announced the journey I knew that if anyone could Lisa could. Sure it would be tough but then if it wasn't why do it. Lisa overcame 2 mountain pass crossings then a final climb to the summit of the highest peak in the lower 48. She crossed Death Valley in the middle of the summer. While doing this she was pulling, pushing and maybe kicking a 250 pound cart full of frozen water, food, clothing and a celebratory cigar. Tim, her boyfriend and another friend Will monitored the journey but offered no help, no supplies and no advice at all. This was all by the guidelines and "rules" set by Marshall Ulrich when he did the first successful solo, unsupported crossing and summit.

Congratulations Lisa.

Below is Lisa's brief report she wrote to the Ultralist (as with Ben's photo I am sure she will not mind me posting on my blog)


This is my first time at my computer since last Sunday. I am absolutely
overwhelmed with the comments and support! I am blessed to have such
wonderful people in my life. Thank you so much!

Quick thank you's just for now go to:

Tim and Willy, who were there to witness - but not help (a tough job for
them, like for example when the cart tipped over with me on top and all they could do is watch!); Jeff Sauter; Bill and Deborah Latter; Danny
Westergaard; Ben and Denise Jones, and Marshall Ulrich. And dear Nikki for
her progress updates (which I wish I could have read along the way!). And
many, many, many others.

Let's see... how can I keep this brief and just give a quick summary.

How about: That. Was. Hard.

And it was.

A few additional facts:

- I started at 6:19 am Monday, July 25.
- No crew, totally unaided.
- Witnessed by the SPOT tracker and many others. Will detail later.
- Not sure if part of the official rules because I never asked Marshall
specifically, but I made it a rule to accept no advice about anything either.
- My official elapsed time from Badwater to the summit of Mt. Whitney was 89
hours, 48 mins, 38 secs.
-Traffic was a bit scary. Tim and Willy worked nearly non-stop to make sure
cars were alerted that I was on the road.
- People are allowed to summit with me, but everything I needed for the
summit had to be carried from the start. Nothing accepted. I summitted with
Tim, Willy, and Danny Westergaard (who also helped with traffic on the
portal road - many, many hours).
- The cart weighed about 240 pounds, 180 pounds of that was frozen water
(brought to start line by Jeff Sauter, who also helped with traffic for the
first two days through the climb to Father Crowley)
- My biggest challenge by far was Towne Pass, the 18 mile climb starting at
about mile 42. It took Marshall 16 hours to make this climb. It took me
almost 21. It was incredibly difficult and yes, I thought many times that I
couldn't do it. I broke down mentally at the last stretch. I could see the
top but I couldn't pull up that grade with the fierce head wind. I had to
cut "switchbacks" on the road in order to do it. I thought of Carl L's
message during Vol State about runners moving at 3 hours per mile. That was
me. I thought it would never end. But baby steps, while painfully slow,
still got me to where I needed to go...eventually.
- In retrospect, I should have dropped the cart in Lone Pine (there is a
choice of LP or at the Portal Trail) because the Portal road climb was
nearly as bad a Towne Pass. The cart was still heavy.
- I started the 11-mile summit at about 11:30 am. At about 3/4 the way up,
Tim and I went ahead and Willy and Danny moved a little slower. It was
bitterly cold. I was prepared for anything, carried all emergency and all
weather supplies from Badwater, but it was still very cold and windy. I
fought hypothermia the last few miles. Tim and I hit the summit around
midnight. (Details later.) I was done. We took a couple of pictures with our
frozen hands and the cigar had to wait until morning. I signed the book and
then went straight into the survival hut to get out of the wind. Two hours
later, Danny and Willy joined us. We spent the night in there and when I
turned the SPOT device over to stop the blinking, it lost the GPS signal.
-We put on every piece of clothing we had (at this point, I was done and
could accept help) and we slept. Well, sort of. At least we were out of the
-We were up at 5 am, and we started our descent around 7:10 am. The weather
got progressively worse over the next few hours and most of the descent was
made in rain, hail, thunder and lightening, complete with seeing 2 rocky
-We were soaked to the bone back at the portal but that didn't stop me from
getting a cheeseburger at the Portal Store, and yes, I was stuffing my face
when Marcia came over to the car to congratulate me!
-The first day was "cool" and overcast. I was lucky.
-I slept about 1/2 hour the first night, a total of about 1-1/2 hours the
second, and none the third.
-I had enough water, even dumped about 2.5 gallons.
-I had enough food, about 20,000 calories.
-I started with wrist tendinitis (from training with the cart) but that
seemed to resolve by the last day. I had trouble with anterior tibialis and
achilles tendinitis but it was manageable. I had some pretty bad plantar
fasciitis too, and thank goodness I was able to manage it. That is painful.
These were new problems for me, certainly due to pulling the cart. I am
surprised I had no back pain whatsoever.
-Denise pre-taped the balls of my feet and I had only one small blister that
was easily treated.
-This was a record for me for the most days without a shower.
-It was an adventure of a lifetime!
-I will never do it again. :)

I hope I have time to write a report. I really want to.

Thank you so very much for the support on the list here and all the awesome
support of Tim, my friends and family. This may have been a solo, unaided,
self-contained crossing of Death Valley to the summit of Mt. Whitney, but it
was in no way unsupported. I am deeply appreciative.

Lisa Bliss

(Any copyrights owned by Dr Ben Jones - photo and Dr Lisa Bliss - Lisa's report to the ultra list)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lisa's Crossing

Lisa's crew van

Dr Lisa Bliss starts her Death Valley crossing from Badwater Basin finishing 146 miles on top of Mount Whitney on Monday July 25th 6am PT. Lisa is running solo, unsupported and self contained.

Check out her weblink here:

Good luck my friend.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Back to the Trails

Today I went back to the trails.

It's been one wet spring into summer in the Chicago area. The trails have been wet and therefore muddy and activity such as running and biking easily tears up the trails. Single track is the worst. I've missed the trails but it was for the best.

I did run the trails at McDowell in Naperville but that is mostly wider grass and dirt so dries out quickly. Not so the trails at Knoch Knolls in southern Naperville. The DuPage River runs on both sides of the park where two branches come together. The park easily floods.

Last time I was at Knoch Knolls was during the winter when the trails were covered in snow and ice. With screws in the bottom of some old trail shoes winter running is so easy there and very enjoyable. The trees are bare and nothing is overgrown as nothing has grown yet. You can easily see the forest through the trees and spot the deers staring back at you and the hawk perched high in on the tree branches. Now it is summer with temperatures in the 80s. Due to the rain the trees are very green as is the grass and the vegetation.

It was good to be back at Knoch Knolls.

KK as I like to call it is not the biggest trail system in the area, that would be Palos but it is local and has a good mix of grass trails, some limestone and plenty of single track. There is also a new paved bike trail. Luckily my route which I run most of the time only uses the paved section for around 300 meters.

Today I arrived early and was meet by 60 high school lads doing some cross country training around the sports field. They were moving fast in packs. My plan was to do two loops of my own KK route with the second one being a reverse of the first. Running trails in reverse is almost like running a new trail. The first part is wider grass followed by a nice single track section that runs along the north river branch. It wides around the trails and in the spring is covered in bluebells. Of course I missed those this year. This trail empties outback onto the wide trail before a turn to the left brings me to the prairie crossing which is totally exposed to the sun. Sadly there is also a power line running over head. After a half mile or so I make a right to follow some single track along the south branch river. This trail tends to get overgrown in the summer and that was the case this time. Often it is so bad I can't through so guess I lucked out today. This is also one section that floods easily so I was surprised it was relatively dry. After the small paved section I joined what to this park is a hill "climb" before hitting the longest section of single track which is really 3 tracks that I join together . I love this section as it winds it way through the center of the park but it is know for retaining water and therefore can be muddy which in parts it was. There are also lots of roots and rocks on these sections. Finally I arrive back at the parking area.

The high school runners are gone but I see others coming into the park on foot and bikes plus a few dogs. After fueling up and changing out my water bottles I head back to the trail and do it all again but in reverse. This was the only time I came across bikes on the single track guessing the others I saw all stayed on the paved trail. One lady was powering through the overgrown lower river trail and doing very well. I'd see her again later refueling by her car. The other biker was riding the north river trail which has many roots and of course he had no helmet on. Scary.

It was great to be back on the trails and covering some good distance. It total I ran 8.6 miles and the effort was good most of the way. Nearing the end the sun was getting hotter and I could feel it has I drank most of my water bottle. A fresh ice cold bottle was waiting for me back at the car along with a Clif bar.

I'll be back.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Soldier Field 10

First comment: What a great race.

Never having ran this race which was now in it's 8th year I wanted to do it. Thanks to Clif Bar I was signed up. For me it started on Tuesday when I went to Fleet Feet and picked up my race packet along with four friends. It was one of the smoothest well planned race packet pick ups I've attended in and out in minutes with 5 race bibs, 5 T shirts in varying sizes.

Race morning my friend Danielle picked me up just before 5am and we drove over to a meeting point to collect four Windrunner club members and was headed to Chicago by 5:15am. Easy drive in and smooth parking around 5:40. This is one race it is best to get there early for. Danielle had some race flyers for CARA, I had to go to Clif Bar booth to get a Clif Bar running cap to wear during the race and the others had race packets to get. Back to the car to get ready, no gear check required. Danielle introduced me to more friends, boy is she well known!! We walked over to our race corral. There was six (AA, A, B, C, Open 1, open 2). I had been assigned to A down with the fast guys. I think that was due to Clif Bar. I felt sort of strange at the front so once the gun went off I ran to the side of the road.

The race started on time. First we headed south on either Lake Shore Drive or the frontage roads along side it for almost five miles then back north on the bike and running path. It was a good course even with the marina construction around 31st St.

I am one of those slow runners. I had speed at one time but after getting burned out on running then some medical and injury issues I've not yet got any speed back, distance yes speed no. I thought I could go 2:10 at this race (said I am slow) but deep down wanted to hit 2:00.

Due to being in corral A I hit the first mile in around 9 minutes, too fast. As the course went by my miles got slower. First four averaged just over 10s and I knew I'd slow down. I did but not by that much. I was excited to make the turn around at the big Clif Bar structure and head for home. This is generally one of the best city views you can get and only gets better has you get closer. Not today though as the city was covered in low clouds or fog. It reminded me of of when I got married at Navy Pier 21 years and 2 days ago (May 26) when it was also foggy. Oh well. Around mile 7 my friend Sarah passed me. I coached her to her first marathon many years ago via CARA. Sarah still calls me Coach and did today, love it. Finally I hit McCormick Place at mile nine. Checked my watch. WOW (for me) could I break 1:50. Along the bike path and make the turn on to the start line road along side Soldier Field. We had to head north and into the stadium via the service entrance, through a players tunnel and out onto the field. Fans are in the stands cheering us on, a camera crew is showing us on the jumbtron (nay didn't see myself) and I head across the grass and over the finish line on the half way line. I was done and yes broke 1:50 with a posted finish off 1:49:15. I was pleased with that.

Get a bottle of water. Walk around to soak it in especially as the finish run had gone by so fast. Left the playing field and got a nice medal, food bag and a souvenir blanket.

Easily found Danielle and gang. I was the slowest of the six so they had to wait for me join them, thanks guys. We all had good races. Drive back to western burbs was full of race talk and where to go for breakfast. Hmmm those pancakes and coffee hit the spot.

Soldier Field 10 is a great event. Everything from race sign up to packet pick up to race day organization to the shirts, medals and blankets. Kudos to Fleet Feet.

A big thanks to Clif Bar for my race number and being a race sponsor.
Another big thanks to Danielle for driving us all to the race.

I'll be back but first I have to run some trails just like my blog name.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Badwater Unsupported Solo

No not by me but by a friend of mine, read on.

Lisa and crew at Badwater Basin before 2007 race (photo by Ian Stevens)

You all know how much I like the Badwater ultramarathon. I've followed the race for years. First was just reading about it then along came the DVD "Running on the Sun" and then friends doing the race and yet more reading and checking results. Finally in 2007 my dream of being part of the race came true when my friend Scott from Downers Grove asked me to be on his crew team. The race blew my mind, unless it was the 125 degree July heat, maybe both. I had an amazing time at that race. In 2008 with no one friends to crew I found an Aussie, Kelvin needing a USA based crew so along with my friend Steve I crewed Badwater again. Kelvin then did the race again in 2009 so I crewed again. Sadly I could not attend in 2010 but followed the race on line and played all my DVDs (five in total), watched You Tube clips etc and even planned a noon time run at Springbrook with Cat.

One of my good friends is Lisa Bliss an ultrarunner from the Midwest currently living in Washington State. Lisa has been the Badwater head MD for years. Lisa as ran the race twice including in 2007 when she won. This year Lisa has decided to do a solo unsupported run from Badwater (282 feet below sea level) to the top of Mt Whitney (highest point in lower 48) in July. The race finishes at the Whitney portal trail head at nearly 9000 feet and after 135 miles. Lisa is going to around 14500 feet and 146 miles. (Race finishes lower due to current government rules). By solo unsupported she will have no support or crew, has to carry all her supplies (food, water, ice etc) in a cart that she'll need to pull or push and accept no help from anyone. Her boyfriend, Tim will be in the Valley for security and safety but that is it.

Here is Lisa's blog report:

This will be one long hard run. Even before Lisa gets to Mt Whitney at mile 122 there is miles of straight never ending roads, two mountain passes both around 5,000 feet with long climbs and descents, heat, wind, traffic and did I mention no restocking. Then the climb up Mt Whitney begins. First it is a steady doable uphill until you hit the switchbacks when the grade gets steeper. Then the paved road runs out and Lisa will have to hike 11 miles up steep switchbacks with some sheer drops in possible unpredictable weather than can include wind, rain, ice, lightening, snow - yes in July. Mt Whitney creates its own weather.

If anyone can do it Lisa can. To the best of my knowledge (and what Lisa writes) only one person has ever done a solo unsupported run. Some others have tried but Marshall Ulrich is the only success. Lisa can be number two.

This July will be a busy month for me, first following the Badwater race then following any reports that might come through on my friend Lisa.

If any one can Lisa can.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

10 days to go

I am less than 10 days away from my next race and only my second road/paved race in around 4 or 5 years. Looking forward to doing the Soldier Field 10. The race numbers and starting corrals where emailed to the near 15000 runners on Monday night. Packet pickup is next week at Fleet Feet store in Lincoln Park then race day is May 28th at 7.30am.

Although I am excited to do this race not looking forward to the numbers running but I'll just go out and enjoy myself, not everyday or even every month I get to run on the Chicago lakefront these days.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sad News

Media are reporting that Sammy Wanjiru has died from a fall (or jump) off a balcony at his home

In 2009 I had the honour of picking Sammy and Richard Limo up at the O'Hare airport and driving them into Chicago for the marathon. I got to spend 2 hours with them, more with Sammy as we had to wait for Richard to get through customs and immigration. Race day Sammy broke the Chicago and North American marathon time by 1 second, worth $100,000. Both guys were so nice. I am in shock

Here's my report from 2009

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Soldier Field 10 - signed up

I signed up for Fleet Feet's Soldier Field 10 mile scheduled for May 28th.

After running 9.7 miles on the roads and bike paths of the Chicago lakefront the race enters and finishes on the half way line inside Soldier Field. Most people know this venue as home to the Chicago Bears. I've only seen one Bears game but spent six years watching MLS' Chicago Fire play at Soldier Field along with many an international game and friendlies. Now you see why I say half way and not 50 yards.

I am looking forward to this race. I've always wanted to do it but never been able to. Life gets in the way at times. Last year I was at the event working the Clif Bar booth handling out Clif products and samples. I had a blast walking around the expo area before the race with a messenger bag stuffed full of Clif Shots gels and Clif Shot Bloks handing them out to many a smiling face. During the race I ducked into Soldier Field and saw runners crossing the halfway line. That was neat. Clif Bar will be back at the race as a major sponsor this year and although I'll not be working the booth or the messenger bag this year I guess I am running with Team Clif Bar. I won't be the fastest and likely closer to the back of the back (more running time for the entry I say) I am going to enjoy the race and all the Chicago Lakefront as to offer.

I don't do many races. Last year I did 7 varying in length from 5k to 50k plus an orienteering race. All these races were on trails, either dirt or limestone. In 2009 I did four races and three were on trails. I like trails, a lot as my blog title says. Therefore my last race on the black top was 18 months ago while doing the 4 mile in Wisconsin Dells. Sure I do some training on the roads but prefer to hit the dirt or limestone. I'll have to do a few long runs on the roads in next few weeks. I've run up to 12 miles this year (my first ultra is not till the summer so not rushing the build up) but that was on trails. I should be fine but I bet I'll be more sore from this road race than any recent trail race.

I can't wait

Legal stuff: Fleet Feet Soldier Field 10 logo owned by Fleet Feet Chicago. Clif Bar logo owned/trademarked by Clif Bar

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Badwater Solo

Photo supplied by Steve O

Update: Steve has decided not to do his planned solo run this year. Hopefully it'll be on next year or the year after. Whenever Steve is ready to run myself and his fellow crew will be there to guide him across the desert and blacktop.

This past weekend Adventure Corp sent emails out to the 100 or so accepted applicants for the 2011 Badwater Ultramarathon. As previous readers (think there are some) know this is one of my favourite events. It is not something I could ever run. 135 miles through Death Valley in July with temperature around 125 but I've crewed there 3 times and love it.

My good buddy Steve has crewed those 3 times with me plus he has a 4th crew time. Steve has covered many miles pacing our runners at Badwater including topping 50 miles one year. He is a little energizer bulldog that can just keep going and going. Steve could easily finish the full 135 mile crossing but the race application calls for a minimum three 100 mile ultra finishes. Steve has two successful finishes at Arizona's Javelina 100. At a minimum he would need another, then maybe more. Steve just wants do a crossing so in the tradition and spirit of how the race got it's start he has decided to do a solo crossing along the race route this July.

I hope to be there to crew him. I love Death Valley. I love the idea of running from the lowest to the highest points in the lower 48 of America. I could never do it but I can be there to make that dream come true for my buddy.

Good luck Steve and let's get the planning started my friend

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Frozen Zucchini

After a few fun hours on snowy trails on Saturday what better than going to a snow shoe race on Sunday. Barrington IL was holding the Frozen Zucchini Snow Shoe 5k race and I had some friends entered. What better than cheering on Cathie, Tom and Kim.

I've seen people snow shoeing before but never racing. This race was a sell out with 160 people and a kids race. Erehwon Outfitters had a small supply of rental shoes. They also supplied some great items in the racers goody bag. The goody bag was enough for me wishing I had signed up. The T shirt was a great long sleeve cotton with the clever race logo on the front. In the bag was a pair of merino wool socks, a water bottle, pair of winter gloves, some good healthy snack items, a small novelty compass (which actually appears to work), some hand lotion and other assorted times. I believe the sign up cost was only $25. The goody bag was worth that alone. The race also had some good post race snacks, coffee and hot chocolate then an award party at a near by bar with pizza and beer.

The 5k course was two loops of a city park which from the start line area appeared to have a few hills and likely an extension of the hills we passed on the drive in. The racers lined up almost cross country run style and where off. Snow was flying every where and the lead guys were flying right from the start. We watched them shoe around a baseball field pass the soccer fields then out into some park fields along the snow covered grass trails that from the course map are part of the park system. It didn't take the leaders long to get back to the start/finish at 1.55 miles and head out on their second loop. I was surprised how fast some folks were moving. I missed the winner returning to finish the race as I had crossed the soccer fields to get some photos across the park. Got back in time to see Kim finish her race and still smiling. Kim did great and was close to the top of her age group. Cathie and Tom raced together and they put the fun in fun by enjoying their race and not worrying about the time, more trail time for their money I say.

Everyone at this race was so friendly from the race staff, the announcer, the volunteers, the timing crew, the cheering fans and the big Frozen Zucchini. After the race most folks headed into downtown Barrington for pizza and beer at a cool bar.

Kudos to the race organizers for a race well put on. I think next year they can hopefully increase the numbers allowed. I think I'll be there.

Kim before the start

Cathie and Tom finishing

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Windburn Six (or Three)

Windburn Six 2011 Champs, Jim and Jennifer. Photo by Kelly Gaines

Windburn Six is a six hour run held in a local park on a 2.28 mile loop. Run as many miles in six hours. Winner is the one with most miles.

Today the trails were covered in snow, around five inches worth. The wind was lightly blowing at the start and the temperature around 28F. And this was tons better than 2010 when we had a foot of snow, wind, cold and 5F. A few guys ran in shorts but they move so fast and are quicker than the wind.

I wanted to run more miles than I did at Windburn 2010. I had a thought of running a minimum of 16 miles (more than twice 2010) but in the end my schedule called for only 3 hours running and then drive home. The first loop was tough as the trail had not packed down. I mixed in run and walk on this loop but the goal was not to be lapped right away. Most of this loop was spent snow trekking with Anastasia. She finished the Javelina 100 and in three weeks is heading south for Ironhorse 100. As we approached the start/finish line I heard a call come up that the leader, Mr Jim O'Brien was coming in behind us. I've never sprinted so fast, as least not in last 10 years and succeeded in nipping Jim to the score sheet. Of course he had now done two laps to my one. Went out on another loop with Anastasia and by the time we hit the back half a nice packed down trail was found. So we got some good running in.

Short break and some Gatorade back at SF. Emptied the limestone out of my shoes; OK who gets limestone bits in their shoes when the trails are covered in snow, only me. After one final big loop, headed out with Kelly for a short loop then another short loop this time with "King of the Road" Juli.

Fun times. I was sad to leave early but as they say I'll be back

Jim went onto win the men's division and Jennifer A won for the ladies. That's them at the top with their new BFF "James The Turtle".

Thanks Brian and CHUGs for another fun day out.

Me at Windburn Six. Photo by Kelly Gaines

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Think I won a race..........

Back in August (31st to be precise) I did a 13.1 mile training run on the Oak Brook half marathon course. Being the set up guy for the Labour Day race I can't run the actual race so had decided to run it 6 days before giving me time to check out the course for "issues". As the start/finish and miles were marked ready for race morning it was like running the race.

After I ran I emailed the RD, a friend of mine, and gave him a “race report”. I told him when I got to the race site there was no start line set up, no aid stations on the course, no police controls, no cheering crowds, then at the finish line no medal for my race finish and oh I think I won. Well Mr. RD saved that email.

Today I meet Tom for coffee and to discuss some 2011 events and he presented me with the award at the top. LOL

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 has come to an end and overall it was a good year in running for me and this blog is all about running so this is what this article is all about.

Coming out of 2009 I logged a low 575 miles and run some races up to half marathon distance.

The Chicago Ultrarunner Group (CHUGs) had been formed at the start of 2009 and I was proud to become a member and meet many new friends.

In 2010 the CHUGs went from strength to strength under the leadership of Torey Jones and Brian Gaines. Those two and the rest of the CHUGs were a massive inspiration to me. Without them I am not sure I’d have hit most my goals in 2010.

I didn’t really set any goals in stone actually and if I didn’t make them it didn’t really matter but in an earlier blog report I had listed the following: Run a marathon, run a 50k, run a 50 mile, doing some biking, break 1000 miles running. I also have to add try something new.

I had not run a marathon or a 50k in over ten years. Never done 50 miles. My brand new mountain bike is seven years old and has 500 meters on it. My year older road bike as maybe 90 miles on it. Both have more dust on them than miles or me. In 2009 I ran, as mentioned, 575 miles.

Happy to report that of those five plus one goals I hit all but two.

In May I ran the Des Plaines River Trail marathon. I was slow, very slow but I placed top 40. Well 37th overall, hmmm out of 38 finishers.

In September I ran the Rock Cut HOBO 50. I was slow, very slow but I finished. I was a few time zones behind most people but it was great to be back in ultraland. I wrote a report on the race.

Sadly I never got to run a 50 miler. Guess that is one of my top running goals for 2011.

Sadly, also the bikes stayed locked up and gathering dust. My total bike miles was 11 miles as I was asked to do lead bike at the North Shore 5k race last June. I used a borrowed bike and although 5k is only 3.1 miles I prerode the course so I’d lead the runners the right way. Took out some course marshals then rode back to the start then biked to an important intersection where the 5k and half marathon went different ways. I wished my biking in Highland Park had got me to get the duster out. 2011.

Miles ran in 2009 was low, 575 miles. I knew I could top that and hoped for 1000. 1101.1 miles was hit.

And for something new. Nothing was planned but in August and September I took a six week introductory yoga course at a nearby studio. I can’t speak enough about how much I enjoyed the course and its benefits to running. Sadly I have not done any yoga since but that has to change in 2011.

The other something new was trying an orienteering meet and I am hooked. It combines my love off trail running with a treasure hunt and using ones brain. I’ll be back. Thanks Deanna.

In 2010 I did 7 races: CHUGs Windburn Six, Des Plaines River Trail marathon, CHUGs Sunburn Six, WORS Trail 5k, Naperville Trail half marathon, Rock Cut HOBO 50k and CAOC Palos Orienteering meet.

My favourite race. Tough decision. DPRT marathon meant a lot as it was me getting back to distance. Sunburn Six I hit my goal on the hottest day of the year. WORS 5k was run on mountain bike trails near Milwaukee and as to be the hardest 5k I’ve done.

But title for my favourite race of 2010 goes to the Rock Cut HOBO 50k.
Rock Cut is a state park near Rockford. The race is all trails besides half a mile paved at the very start. The rest is a nice mix of cross country, horse, hiking, mountain bike trails, a few river and creek crossings, some nice climbs and lots of CHUGs. As it is a two loop course with the second loop done in reverse I got to see lots of friends and the CHUGs had a large number of runners and many of them placed in the top ten including the female champ Sarah Jurgaitis. I had done the 25k twice before but never the full HOBO. Yes this was a goal race for me and no way was I not going to finish even if it took me forever, I had to get the finishers T shirt. Besides the course and great volunteers the best part of this race was the welcome I got at the finish. Waiting for me were CHUGs Kelly, Brian, Paige, Geof and Deanna plus Rockford runners Norm and Joyce and of course Larry the RD.

That welcome from the CHUGs meant the word to me. They are what have inspired me in the past 18 months and especially in 2010. Those guys rock. Thank you CHUGs, everyone of you.

So where will 2011 take me running wise. Not sure. I’ll have some goals but they are not set in stone. Hopefully a first 50 miler. Hopefully a few marathons and 50ks. Hopefully a duathlon. Hopefully some road and mountain biking. Hopefully an average of 100 miles ran each month.

Races I’d like to do to include Dances with Dirt 50k at Devil’s Lake, Des Plaines River Trail 50 mile, Fox Valley marathon or HOBO 50k, a spring marathon or 50k, Muncie Powerman Duathlon, four or five orienteering meets and Sunburn 6 or 12. I also hope to crew at Badwater, race or solo.

Thanks for reading and being there with me in 2010. Again CHUGs rock. Thank you friends.